Last week, when news broke that the Republican National Committee had its worst fundraising year in a decade. donald trump And his advisors were deeply alarmed. Sources familiar with the conversations told CNN that the two men began planning to send a clear message that things needed to change as the former president inched closer to winning the Republican nomination.
Mr. Trump soon began publicly airing his dissatisfaction with the RNC and its chair, Ronna McDaniel, in a series of interviews in which he questioned Mr. McDaniel’s leadership and the direction of the committee.
On Monday, President Trump said on social media: “I will make a decision on my proposals to grow the RNC the day after the South Carolina primary,” setting a clear marker on his plans to get more involved in reforming the committee. . .
The declaration came just hours after Trump and McDaniel met for more than two hours at the Mar-a-Lago resort to discuss the direction of the RNC, according to two people briefed on the meeting. A person told CNN that both men described the meeting as friendly.
The RNC’s recent growing concerns about its financial problems are just a turning point in President Trump’s years-long battle with the committee. Two of former President Donald Trump’s advisers say the former president still harbors resentment toward the group over the 2020 election, saying he did not have adequate legal counsel or systems in place to challenge the election results. blaming the group.
Tensions have continued to rise between President Trump and his campaign in recent months. getting more and more irritated How the RNC handled the Republican primary debates, and more recently. RNC resolution failure If the former president had informally supported him, he would have been officially declared the presumptive candidate.
President Trump has asked allies and aides in the past why the RNC should remain neutral in the Republican presidential primary. The RNC’s bylaws mandate neutrality. And until recently, McDaniel remained committed to serving as an impartial chairman.
Even before the RNC reported. Only $8 million in the bank At the end of December, the committee had its lowest cash reserves since 2014, but Trump’s top advisers were preparing to force major reforms on the committee.
Two sources familiar with the internal discussions said the Trump campaign is secretly naming potential chairmen to replace Mr. McDaniel, including North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley and South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick. started to surface. Florida Sen. Joe Gruters, a longtime Trump supporter, is also a possibility, according to a source familiar with the internal discussions. President Trump previously supported Gruter and Whatley as RNC executive candidates, but both lost their respective bids.
Trump personally has no authority to remove McDaniel, and former top advisers Susie Wiles and Chris Lacivita have long ties to the RNC and have historical knowledge of how the national committee operates. It is informally acknowledged that there is an abundance of
He could pressure McDaniel to resign or urge RNC members to fire her at a summer committee meeting scheduled just before the Republican National Convention in July, but he could not directly call her out. cannot be dismissed. A two-thirds majority vote from the 168 RNC members to remove McDaniel would be needed, a hurdle some RNC insiders doubt will be easily achieved.
More likely, sources close to the former president and the RNC say, Mr. Trump and his campaign will make a more traditional move, placing a core ally of Mr. Trump as vice chair alongside Mr. McDaniel. , there is a possibility that more traditional movements may be revived.
Behind the scenes, the Trump campaign has discussed the possibility of moving Lacivita to the RNC as an internal ally, but those conversations were private, a person familiar with the talks said.
McDaniel’s public or de facto ouster would mark a dramatic change from the early days of her tenure leading the RNC. Mr. McDaniel came to the job as a staunch ally of Mr. Trump. She has held her current position since 2017, making her one of the longest serving chairs to date.
One committee change was announced Tuesday. RNC chief of staff Mike Reid will resign in the coming weeks. Still, two people familiar with Mr. Reade’s resignation stressed that his move to the private sector was unrelated to tensions between Mr. Trump and Mr. McDaniel.
Trump and RNC need each other
Despite widespread public and private tensions, the Trump campaign and the RNC have much to gain from each other.
The campaign would benefit greatly from access to RNC data operations, leveraging RNC ground operations and fundraising. The RNC’s legal fund will also be a key asset as President Trump and his political action committee continue to face mounting legal costs faced by the former president in multiple criminal cases. Dew.
Committee members told CNN that some big-money donors are wary of donating directly to Trump but are willing to write checks to the RNC on Trump’s behalf. .
“There are a lot of big donors who don’t want to give to Trump, but want to check the RNC by giving to the Victory Fund. That way they don’t have a bad time at the country club. “It’s fine,” they said.
Meanwhile, the RNC needs Trump’s branding to improve its precarious financial situation.
The lifeblood of the committee heading into the 2020 election was whether it could use Trump’s name for fundraising. But in March 2021, weeks after Trump left the White House, the former president’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to the RNC and two other Republican organizations, demanding that they use Trump’s name and likeness in fundraising efforts. ordered to stop using it. Appeal and goods.
But things will change if Trump becomes the Republican nominee. This is the main reason RNC leaders want to end the primary season as quickly as possible, a source familiar with their conversations told CNN.
“On the positive side, the moment he becomes the presumptive candidate and basically they deem him to be, they’ll allow him to use his name again,” the former RNC leader said. told CNN. “They’ll bring in more money.”
But whatever the RNC does to appease the former president in the coming weeks, it will likely be based on the sophistication the committee conducted in 2020, when officials took years to strategize against incumbent President Trump. There is a high possibility that this strategy will not be comparable to the previous strategy. warned the former Republican leader.
“The downside is that President Trump will be hoping for a similar operation in 2020 to what he had under incumbent presidents, but he won’t realize that he didn’t have the runway to build it.” said the former RNC. the leader said. “That’s going to be the biggest problem they have.”
“In his mind, it should be the same surgery he last saw. And it’s going to be a very short period of time,” the former leader added.